Catching Fire is everything you expect and more from the Hunger Games franchise. The acting is emotional and driven, the sets and costumes are ridiculous (in the best way), and the story drives home the idea of rebellion through underhanded scheming and saying-what-we shouldn’t-say techniques. Catching Fire is a must-see and here are a few reasons why:
The story continues right where The Hunger Games ends. Katniss and Peeta are preparing for their victory tour where they’ll visit the homes of all the people they killed. Sounds like a jolly old picnic, doesn’t it? Thanks to Katniss’ unpleasant demeanour and disregard for the rules, however, she has become somewhat of a mascot for the oppressed districts on their tour schedule. Rebellion, it seems, is inevitable. In order to shut her up and keep his hands clean, President Snow arranges another Hunger Games in which all the tributes are chosen from the existing pool of victors. Tough luck, but it’s back into the arena for the traumatized Katniss and her TV love-interest, Peeta.
So what’s so great about Catching Fire? You constantly feel like Big Brother is watching and can’t help put pity/root for Katniss, the unwilling face of the rebellion. Catching Fire does a great job of making you feel like Katniss and Peeta are on the edge of war without a soundtrack of gunshots and bombings. It’s all about feeling the tension.
Jennifer Lawrence’s death-stares are as instrumental to this film as the three-fingered salute. From Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) to Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) to Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), every character brings a heck of a performance. They are dramatic and dead serious while, inHaymitch’s case, kind of funny at the same time. And what about the new kids in the clubhouse? Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) is rebellious, hot-tempered, and has no boundaries whatsoever, while Finnick (Sam Clafin) is cheeky, flirty, and a total heartthrob. I was a little worried about Sam Clafin as Finnick, having read the books beforehand, but I can tell you now that he is a great fit and I’m fully prepared to take on the haters in his defense.
The story is so emotional and so dark that nearly every other scene gives the actors one more reason to cry on demand. There is no shortage of tears here. Strangely enough, my cold stone heart did not make me roll my eyes and say “get over it”. The crying was justified and believable. Even the lighthearted characters are wrought with emotional turmoil and seeing them tear up is one more reason for you to yell out, “the injustice!”
James Newton Howard’s moving score is back, and the music helps to remind us that this film really is The Hunger Games’ bigger brother. The budget for Catching Fire could clearly have supported the making of the first film several times over. I was worried going in that a higher budget would mean too much pizazz and unnecessary bling, but I was happily wrong. It keeps the same feel as the first movie without going over the top. Think of it as replacing pleather costumes with the real stuff.
Catching Fire should be on the top of your to-see list, if only so you’ll understand what everyone around you is talking about. It’s sure to be the talk of the town at least until the next Hobbit comes out in December. I have read the books, I liked the books, but I have to say this is one series on a very short list where I liked the movies better. It’s deep, well-acted, beautifully shot, and well-deserving of a 9/10. Keep it up, Francis Lawrence, I like your spark.